I really, really love pinterest. Like, sometimes when I first wake up and I’m lying in bed delaying the inevitable cold feet on the wood floor, I just scroll through Pinterest dreaming of all the ways my house/life/workouts/crafts could be cooler. Recently I spent way too much time looking for a cute way to make an Advent wreath.
And I realized I was doing it more for the fact that it would be cute than for the liturgical significance and meaning of it. How shallow is that? And now I’m reading this and feeling even more lame for lying to you because the real story is not just that I wanted it to look cute, but I wanted it to look cute for a good instagram photo.
Who am I? That is THE shallowest reason to have an Advent wreath. I’m sorry world if you thought I was some deep, spiritual, holy woman. Ha. On the contrary… I am but a lump of dirt.
Or clay if you will. I was struck by the scripture readings this Sunday in Mass for the first Sunday of Advent (the four weeks prior to Christmas). The first reading was all about how desolate and lame and sinful and base we are, and how everything we do is usually tainted by our fallen, sinful nature. It even said something like we think we’re doing good works but they’re just dirty rags.
HA! How true is that?! We think we do these things that are going to be like giving God pretty silk flowers. Like when we go to extra daily Masses, or spend extra time reading scripture, or when we do all these devotions for the liturgical season… but then we taint them by going around and telling everyone how much we’re doing! Or we post it on Instagram for everyone else to appreciate and to get likes and affirmation of our devotions. Or worse still, we don’t even do the devotion or prayer for the sake of God, but for the sake of showing others.
And yet (there’s always an “and yet” with God because He’s just that great), God still accepts our dirty, tainted rags of good works and devotions. Because He is the potter and we the clay. He already knows what He’s got to work with! He knows we are but simple clay! Though sinful and desolate and base, He takes whatever I have and makes it into something more beautiful. The great potter sees the mess that I am, the vain, shallow lump of clay… and He still says, “give it to me, I will make it into something more.”
I think my biggest mistake in my spirituality has been to think my holiness is up to me. This fault especially comes out around big liturgical times like Advent when I think the readiness of my heart depends on how many “things” I do, and how many devotions I can check off the list (and post on instagram), and having the right candles and journals and prayers.
But it is all for naught if we don’t give God the pile of clay that is our heart. All virtue and goodness and beauty within us comes from Him, not from what we do. All is according to His grace, and His grace can do nothing if we keep our heart hidden and let the “devotions” be a distraction.
I’m not saying liturgical practices and devotions are bad. I’m just saying that if they don’t assist me in giving my heart over to the potter, they are in vain. If instead they keep me feeling proud of myself and showing off to others, what’s the point?
God our Father, the potter, take my tainted heart that longs to be noticed and create in me a desire to simply give myself over to you so you can mold me into what you want me to become this Advent. Help me to remember holiness is not about what I do, but about how much of my heart I give to you while doing it. Protect me from the desire to show others what is meant to be between you and I. And when I inevitably give you the tainted rags of my good works, wash them clean and make them whole in your sight. When I give you the lump of clay that is my life, make me into a thing of beauty so that the world will see your goodness and not be fooled into thinking it’s my own. Especially this Advent oh God, be my potter. Here’s my heart.
You Are Enough
Don’t ever forget that okay? You are beautiful and precious and deserve good things — and I can’t tell you that enough! Look I even dedicated a side-bar-box-thing to it. God has a plan and a purpose for your life and He died and rose again because He wants to spend forever with you! Okay, read on. Important reminder over.
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God & Spirituality
“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” Psalm 23:1-3
If we attach God’s blessing to our fertility and our families it would mean I am more favored by God than the woman next to me who can’t have children. And we know God’s love doesn’t work that way.
And the salt in the wound of my tender millennial christian heart was when the “things” meant more to people than people. When the rosary and the praying of it was more important than looking and seeing your neighbor’s need wasn’t a holy card but a smile and a hug.
So yeah, I’m not the perfect Christian. Not always the loving, well-behaved daughter of God. But He is big enough to handle my big, complicated emotions. He is understanding enough to listen to my angry ranting and raving.